In 1960, the McKee family bakery needed a name for its new line of snack cakes, after a salesman claimed the McKee name was “too boring.” The family settled on Little Debbie, inspired by a 4-year-old grandchild with a winning smile under her straw hat. Later that year, the first family-pack boxes of Oatmeal Creme Pies were stamped with her likeness and sold in the millions.
Company co-founder Ruth McKee chose this black-and-white photo of her granddaughter to use for artistic rendering in the Little Debbie logo and package design
In 55 years, that namesake brand has become an American icon. Little Debbie snacks, now in more than 75 staple and seasonal varieties, have sold in the hundreds of billions and have a healthy social following.
And the little girl? She’s come a long way, too. “Little Debbie” McKee-Fowler currently serves as executive vice president at McKee Foods Corporation, working alongside second, third and fourth generation McKees, including her father, uncle, brother, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Here’s to sweet family traditions!